PHOENIX - They call New Orleans the “Big Easy.” For the Big Red, it was anything but easy. In fact, let’s count the ways.
The Cardinals lost an early 7-0 lead. Then they lost the ability to score. And, ultimately, the Cards lost the game 31-7.
But wait, there’s more. The Cards lost multiple players to injuries. And even that gets worse because Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander and Alex Okafor all suffered season-ending injuries. Did we mention that they all play (gulp) the outside linebacker position.
And let’s certainly not forget that a player lost part of a body part. No joke. Rashad Johnson now has a middle finger that is approximately the same length as his index finger. That’s what happens when trainers take off your glove and your fingertip stays behind – yikes!
Considering all of the above, has the time arrived to now lose all hope? Not yet. If the Cardinals beat the Buccaneers on Sunday in Tampa, they will even their record at 2-2 and find themselves in a second place tie in the NFC West.
Hence, the next question becomes – how? (Factoid: the Cards last win in Tampa Bay was the first win for the franchise in Arizona). Well, targeting rookie QB Mike Glennon would be a good start. That’s mainly because the rookie is making his first NFL start after replacing Josh Freeman, who was benched earlier this week after completing an NFL-worst 45.7 percent of his passes in three losses this season.
On defense, the Cards strength matches the Bucs strength – running/stopping the run. Bucs RB Doug Martin, nicknamed the “Muscle Hamster,” currently ranks second in the NFL in rushing with 297 yards. Martin will test a No. 3 ranked Cardinals run defense, which will employ more 4-3 defensive fronts, according to AZ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
However, the Bucs strength on defense does not match the Cards strength on offense considering that Tampa boasts a dozen sacks through three games. To date, the Cards offensive line has struggled to protect Carson Palmer, as the Saints tallied four sacks and nine QB hits at the Superdome.
Another key area to monitor – 3 rd down conversions. The Cards are six for 24 on third downs the last two games. According to Head Coach Bruce Arians, that eventually wore down the AZ defense.
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